When my medical history is shared, people are always amazed at how much of it there is. They wonder how I managed to get through it and still have a good disposition. My husband would disagree on the good disposition part. But, unless I look at my medical profile (a list of major medical events in my life), I try not to give it much thought. I am too busy looking forward to where God is leading me than looking back at where I have been.
But not everyone has an easy time doing that. Circumstances and severity of events often obscure the road which feels like a rock climbing experience rather than a hike on a nature trail.
Take my dog, Heidi. I adopted Heidi from the Humane Society for my husband. He had grown up with dachshunds all his life and when my friend told me about this little one I knew she was “the one”. Her history was of being born and raised in a puppy mill, having had 10 liters in five years. Her life was spent in a cage, being mated for profit. She had been adopted twice and returned because she was not potty trained and because of her apprehension. She was sweet if a little timid. After spending some time with her, I brought her home and Thad held her in his arms and fell in love with her. I wish I could say it was mutual. Overnight she became severely apprehensive of Thad, wouldn’t allow him to leash her, pet her and when he did she was so frightened she would defecate! She never bit him but her fear was palpable. Her history had followed her home and she is still living it.
It has been almost eight years since that first day and while Heidi is potty trained, loves to go on walks with her big sister, Sheba and allows Thad to feed her, give her cookies, take her out and walk her (without leashing her), she will not go near him unless I am holding her or sitting by her.
She is stuck in the past and cannot appreciate the future she is in.
Have you ever felt like Heidi? Are you afraid to enjoy and seek the beauty that is in the present because you are always waiting for something from your past to rise up like a fiery dragon? Are you waiting for the dragon’s breath to lick at your heals and possibly singe you till you are an unrecognizable portrait of what you once were? Do you replay your past; afraid you are destined to repeat it?
Watching Heidi has helped me realize that I never want to be defined by my past. My past is just a lesson and not a sentence. God did not create me so that I would live in the past but that I would savor all the flavors of each day. And when I grow fearful and weary I think of Jeremiah 31:25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”. In other words, while my past might have been a bit frightening, my faith allows me to keep moving forward. “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” (Matthew 9:22).
Heidi and I and all of you who have gone through turmoil, medical mayhem, loss of any kind are survivors. What differentiates a survivor from a victim is that a survivor has the ability to let go of what “was” to survive what “is”
I am a survivor and oh and oh, the future is bright!